Brooklyn Bridge Promenade

The view along the Brooklyn Bridge Promenade, looking toward Manhattan, between 1908 and 1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2013:

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The angle here isn’t exact, since they were taken from different sides of the walkway, but both photos show the same view of the Brooklyn Bridge and of the Manhattan skyline.  The first photo is interesting, because although the subject of the photo is the bridge, the background shows three different buildings that were, at one point, the tallest in the world:

1. New York World Building: The tallest from 1890 to 1894, demolished in 1955 to expand the approaches for the Brooklyn Bridge.  The dome of the building is barely visible under the left-hand arch of the bridge tower.

2. Park Row Building:  Held the record from 1899 to 1901, and the building still exists, although it’s not visible in the 2013 photo.  It can be seen in the first photo, near the center, with the two towers on top.

3. Singer Building: Held the record from 1908 to 1909, and was demolished in 1968.  It is readily visible on the far left of the first photo, and its location today is marked by One Liberty Plaza, the large black rectangle at the base of the new World Trade Center building.

Lower Manhattan (3)

A view of Lower Manhattan from New York Harbor, taken between 1910 and 1917. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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A similar angle in 2012:

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Taken from about the same spot as the first photo of the previous post, the circa 1910s photo here may have been taken on the same day, although the battleship to the left is different from the two in the other post.  This battleship is either a Connecticut or Vermont class ship, built in the first decade of the 1900s and decommissioned shortly after the end of World War I.

Just like in the other post, the 2012 photo here is taken a little to the east of the first one.  The only readily-identifiable landmark from both photos is the Whitehall Building.  However, the Singer Building and its replacement, One Liberty Plaza, help to estimate the angle of each photo.  In the first photo, the Singer Building is immediately behind and to the left of the Whitehall Building, while in the 2012 photo, One Liberty Plaza is to the right of the Whitehall Building.

Lower Manhattan (2)

The view of Manhattan from New York Harbor, around 1913-1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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A similar view in 2012:

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There’s a lot going on in the first photo.  New York City has always been a busy port, but it was especially so in the early 20th century.  The top photo shows three major ships – the two battleships, and the passenger liner to the right.  In addition, there are several US Navy torpedo boats visible.

The two battleships are two of the five Virginia-class battleships, which were built by the US Navy between 1905 and 1906.  By the time this photo had been taken, they had already been rendered obsolete by new advances in battleship design, but they remained in commission until 1920, and were scrapped or sunk as target ships by 1923.  As for the ocean liner, it is German, as evidenced by the flag on the stern, but I don’t know its exact identity.  The 2012 photo, on the other hand, shows the type of shipping that is most common today.  New York is no longer a destination for trans-Atlantic ocean liner traffic, nor is it a major military base, but today it is a major port for container ships, such as the Charles Island that is seen in the photo.

New York’s skyline has obviously changed in the past 100 years, although a few landmarks are still visible.  the angle isn’t exact between the two photos – the 2012 one was taken slightly to the east of the first one, but they show the same general view.  Both photos show the Whitehall Building, which is fairly prominent in the first photo, just above the stern of the lead battleship.  Today, its distinctive shape is still visible, just above the middle section of the container ship.  Another major building in the first photo is the Singer Building, seen just behind and to the left of the Whitehall Building.  It was demolished in 1967 to make way for the far less architecturally significant One Liberty Plaza, which is the large, black, rectangular building just above she ship’s bridge.  Also in the 2012 photo is the new World Trade Center.  At the time that the photo was taken, the two tallest buildings were still under construction.

Grand Central Terminal, New York

Grand Central Depot in 1871. Image courtesy of New York Public Library.

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The newly reconstructed Grand Central Station around 1900. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The present-day Grand Central Terminal in 2010:

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The three photos show the three different versions of the railroad station on 42nd Street.  Originally built in 1871 and named Grand Central Depot, it was a joint effort between three New York railroads, hence the term “grand central.”  It was extensively rebuilt from 1899 to 1900, as shown in the second photo, but it didn’t last for long.  Starting in 1903, it was demolished in stages and replaced with the current structure, which was completed in 1913.  This building itself was threatened in the 1960’s – it was designed to be able to support the weight of a tower above it, and several proposals were considered, one of which would have kept the original structure, while stripping it of most of its historic significance.  Ultimately, the city declared the building a landmark, thus preventing it from being altered or demolished.

Union Station, Washington DC

Union Station in Washington, DC, between 1910 and 1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same building in 2012:

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Union Station was built in 1907, by the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.  Since then, a lot has changed in the city, but the building has remained the same.  Neither the Pennsylvania nor the Baltimore & Ohio Railroads exist anymore, but the station is now a major Amtrak hub, and is the southern terminal of the Northeast Corridor, which stretches from DC to Boston, and is the busiest passenger rail line in the country.  The modes of transportation to the trains, however, has changed a lot in the past 100 years.  While the first photo shows trolleys unloading passengers at the station, they have been replaced by cars and buses in the 2012 photo.

Boston Navy Yard Dry Dock

The USS S-48, entering Dry Dock 2 at Boston Navy Yard in 1929. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

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The same view in 2006:

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Although no longer an active military base, this part of Boston Navy Yard looks much the same as it did in the 1920’s, thanks to its preservation as part of the National Park Service’s Boston National Historic Park.  The yard was opened in 1801, and was very active during World War II, when it built a number of destroyers and other smaller warships.  It closed in 1974, and was then turned over to the NPS.

The submarine in the first photo is the USS S-48, which was launched in 1921, in the days before the Navy gave real names to its submarines.  Even though it was only a few years old when the photo was taken, the S-48 had already experienced several mishaps; during builder’s trials, a manhole cover was left unsecured, which is generally a bad thing on a submarine.  A few years later, it grounded off the coast of New Hampshire and was out of service until a few months before this picture was taken.  The S-48 would serve in World War II, but by then the obsolete submarine was used primarily for training purposes, and was scrapped shortly after the war ended.